Just keepin’ it real, with Justin Trudeau, as he hangs out with the commoners
By Andrew Coyne
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is ringing in the new year with a determined effort to re-establish his connection with grassroots Canadians … a campaign-style tour, talking to average folks at coffee shops and church basements across the country. — Canadian Press
(A coffee shop, somewhere on the 401. The door opens. The prime minister enters, pursued by reporters, photographers and various advance people.)
Greetings, fellow commoners! I come among you, unchaperoned and unadorned, in a spontaneous and unrehearsed effort at mingling with the middle class, and those wanting to join it. Just keepin’ it real, kickin’ it, hangin’ out, as we middle class folk are wont to do of a weekday. Don’t mind the cameras, they’re just here to record my every move.
I’m here to “reconnect with Canadians,” as my people were saying the other day, though that should not be taken to imply that I have in any way become disconnected from Canadians. I may be the prime minister now, but I want you to know I’m still the same humble, unpretentious, down-to-earth Justin Trudeau I always was — you know, Justin from the block. The Langevin block!
Ha, ha, just a little dynastic humour there, I mean you have to laugh, don’t you? Hey, did somebody say “roll up the rimshot”?
Now some of you have probably been reading stories suggesting I’m all about attending fancy dinners with Chinese billionaires, or flying off to private islands in the Caribbean at the invitation of billionaire religious leaders, or partying with billionaires and celebrities at Davos.
Well, I’m not at Davos, am I? I could have gone — I could be on the slopes with Heidi Klum right now — but I didn’t. Instead, I’m here, with you, downin’ double-doubles in some godforsaken Ottawa Valley Tim Hortons at seven o’clock in the morning and honestly, Gerry, I couldn’t be happier about it.
In fact, there’s nothing I like less than hanging out — er, hangin’ out — with billionaires. I mean, you couldn’t pay me to do that! Well, you could, but you’d have to pay me, oh, $1,500 at least. Each. The only reason I spend any time with them is for the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing for the middle class.
And let me tell you, we’re doing plenty: things like taxing carbon, sending peacekeepers to Mali, and taxing carbon. Because your concerns are our concerns.
And that’s why I’m here. I’m not here to talk: I’m here to listen.
“That’s great Prime Minister, because I’m really worried that” —
To listen, and most importantly, to learn. I want to know what’s on your mind, the issues that concern you, in a way I couldn’t discover from one of the many polls and focus groups we conduct every day. So let’s hear from you. Does anyone have any questions they’d like to ask? You sir, yes?
“Er, no, I was just trying to order an orange cruller, actually.”
I want to thank you for that question, and for your courage in asking it. I think in many ways the question you’re asking is the question a lot of people are asking these days: can I get an orange cruller? Now, some parties think only the top one per cent should get orange crullers. And some other parties think the government should just give everyone an orange cruller. But we in this government reject both those extremes. We say that everyone should have an orange cruller, so long as they donate to the Liberal party. Which reminds me, could everyone remember to leave their email addresses with my assistant?
“Prime Minister, I am at wit’s end. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. I was just barely getting by as it was, what with the cost of electricity having tripled and all, but now you’re going to add a carbon tax on top? I’ll be eating catfood before long. I don’t know when things have ever looked this bleak.”
What I hear you saying is that for you, better is always possible. And let me reassure you, this is entirely out of our hands. I mean, this is a problem for the provinces to deal with, not us. It’s not like we can just tell the provinces what to do, beyond telling them to tax carbon. Take it up with them. By the way, did I mention I’m a feminist?
“Prime minister, I have to ask about these conflict of interest issues you keep getting yourself into. Whether it’s offering privileged access to people with an interest in government decisions in exchange for party contributions, or accepting free flights from the head of an organization that is in receipt of tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, you appear to be in violation of not only your own ethical guidelines, but federal law. Have you lost your ethical compass?”
I want to thank you for your question, and for your fastidiousness in asking it. But help me out: you say conflict of interest. Where’s the conflict?
“You’ve been accepting benefits, personal or political, from people you were in a position to reward. You’ve been using your position as a public office-holder to raise funds for the party. You’re even paying for this transparently political ‘listening tour,’ designed to change the channel from these and other recent controversies, out of public funds.”
I’m sorry, but I still don’t see how there’s a conflict. It seems to me more a happy overlapping of interests. My friends, I talk a lot about sunny ways —
(An aide jumps in.)
Thank you! That’s all the time we have. Bus leaves in two minutes!
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